2015 St. Louis Scottish Games

It’s that time of year again…on Saturday, our whole clan drove out to Chesterfield for the St. Louis Scottish games! Yes, this was a change of venue, as it was previously held in Forest Park. I won’t lie, we missed to the old location, but that wasn’t because there was anything wrong with the Chesterfield location itself…it was just farther away from us, and not accessible by MetroLink, so it took longer to get there, which was not pleasant, especially given the traffic on the Poplar Street Bridge that day.

The first thing we did upon arriving was watch some of the athletics. The caber toss is always my favorite:

We also saw the sheaf toss:

And the weight over the bar:

And a little more caber toss, just because it’s so cool to watch!

We also saw all of the trophies lined up, waiting to be awarded. This was the first year that the Masters World Championships were held at the St. Louis Scottish Games, so there were a lot more awards than we’ve seen in the past!

One of my favorite parts of the Scottish Games is the highland dancers (accompanied by a bagpiper, of course!):

While the bagpipers are the most prevalent (and loudest!) musicians at the Scottish Games, there are other opportunities to hear music as well, including the Celtic rock band Cleghorn, and lots of folk music:

The food is one of the whole family’s favorite parts (of course!). There are always tons of people in this area, and really long lines, but they move unbelievably quickly. We all had our favorites, including fish and chips, a cornish pastie, and shepherd’s pie. Plus, Schlafly’s special-event, 80 Schilling beer!

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We saw a lot of different animals, including birds of prey, sheep (and sheep herding), and cows:

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The children always love the dog parade. There seemed to be less dogs this year than we’ve seen in the past, but we still saw all of our favorite breeds. I love the really big dogs, including the Irish Wolfhounds, Scottish Deerhounds, and Airedales! And we all love the Scottish Terriers with their adorable beards!

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The Parade of Tartans is always great to watch. I love seeing all of the different clans in their unique plaids, some carrying banners, come together, and then parade around the ceremonies field led by bagpipers and drummers, and a colour guard:

We also enjoy visiting all of the tents belonging to the clans, and learning a little bit about each of them while the children collect their stamps:

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There’s plenty of things for the children to do, in addition to collecting stamps, in the children’s area, and spread throughout the festival grounds:

The best part, though, is seeing the great love of Scotland and Scottish heritage everywhere you look!

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This is definitely one of the highlights of the year for our family. Maybe one of these years, I’ll do some research, and figure out Ryan’s Scottish heritage, so we know which clan is “ours!”

2014 St. Louis Scottish Games

Today we took the whole clan on the train to Forest Park to attend the St. Louis Scottish Games. This was our second time going, so we knew what to expect, and how much fun we were going to have!

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We met some really nice people!

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As was the case last year, the children’s area was a huge hit with our bairns!

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We made it by the British car show this time…I loved the WWII vehicle!

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We saw some of the athletics, but not much.

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And just a bit of the highland dancing.

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We also saw some other demonstrations.

The children all loved the dog parade!

Not to mention the parade of tartans…we even witnessed a proposal, which was unbelievably sweet!

The children also loved visiting the tent of each clan and getting their “passports” stamped, while learning a bit about the clan.

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And I, of course, loved the pipers!

I also loved all the Scottish pride everywhere!

It was a great cultural event, and I think the Scottish games are now part of our family’s permanent calendar. The children are already talking about going back next year!

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More 2013 in Review

2013 was a much calmer year than 2012 was, but we were still plenty busy!

In January, I started the new year by rearranging the school room again. This has become a fairly regular occurrence, and I’m not sure that it will ever really be “done.” I had one of my worst kitchen disasters ever, but corrected it a few days later. We enjoyed our final feast of the holiday season. In school, we made an Alleluia banner to (kind of) match the one at church. The entire city of St. Louis mourned the passing of Stan Musial in January, as well.

In February, we celebrated our 100th day of school. I made a big deal out of it, as I always do for a student (this time, Ladybug), in kindergarten. Chickadee celebrated one of her last remaining first holidays…Valentine’s Day. We had a tea party to celebrate. How I love all of my valentines! Our school received a wonderful gift of a microscope, and we had a great time playing with it. I got hooked on Downton Abbey, and the children got hooked on Jem. Chickadee entertained all of us by learning to say “uh-oh,” as well as dropping things intentionally so she could try her new word out!

March was arguably one of the busiest months of 2013, filled with big events. Bunny attended a park district volleyball clinic and loved it. I received a piece of mail from Buckingham Palace. We celebrated Chickadee’s first St. Patrick’s Day with a tea party…my favorite one of the year! Turkey turned ten…we could hardly believe it! We finally tracked down some zeppole for St. Joseph’s Day. Chickadee turned one…it was a big day! We had a snowstorm that will always be remembered as the “Palm Sunday Snowstorm.” We made a Paschal candle on Holy Saturday and (hopefully) started a new family tradition. We had a very blessed Easter, complete with a new Easter bonnet for me.

We started April still celebrating Easter with another tea party. The Cardinals started another awesome season of baseball. We didn’t make it to Opening Day, but we did take the children on their first train ride to Stan Musial Night at Busch Stadium. The blossoming trees were especially beautiful this year! We took lots of pictures and did lots of tree identification. Chickadee started walking unassisted…watch out world! She also had her first ride in a swing. She wasn’t too sure about it at first, but it turned out to be a lot of fun! St. Louis finally got a Lego store, much to our excitement (and to the dismay of our checking account)! We went on a farm tour at Eckert’s, and learned a lot. I finished planning the year’s summer school. We watched with interest as Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdicated the throne to her son, Willem-Alexander (one of several abdications this year).

In May, Ladybug turned six, although we had to wait for her big birthday celebration, because Ryan was gone on one of his many business trips (almost two months’ worth!) on her actual birthday. Our Lego store celebrated its grand opening, and we stood in line to be a part of it. It was a lot of fun, and the wait was worth it…unfortunately, it didn’t take the children too long to put all of their sets together! As we do every year, we went to Art on the Square, and this time, bought a print of our town’s beautiful fountain from our favorite artist. I took the big girls strawberry picking for the first time. We had our last day of school for the 2012-13 school year. We used some of the strawberries we picked for our Pentecost tea party. Memorial Day weekend, we made the trip to Kansas City to see the Cardinals play the Royals. Ryan and I started building the Lego Tower Bridge. We finished making a full set of church year banners for our school room.

June began with our biannual (apparently) “Park Day.” We had a lot of fun visiting different playgrounds and splash pads. Turkey started another season of parks and rec baseball. Ladybug lost a tooth for the first time. Ryan and I continued working on the Lego Tower Bridge. I took the children to a “Dock Dogs” competition at Eckert’s, which was definitely a first for us! We also went to Grant’s Farm. We celebrated the Queen’s birthday with another tea party. To celebrate “Beer Stein Night” at the ballpark, Ryan and I went to the Flying Saucer for the first time with a friend. The children and I (minus Chickadee) went to the International Center for the service of blessing for the new KFUO studios. Ladybug was very disappointed to learn that the American Girl doll she’s always wanted was going to be retired by the end of the year (stay tuned…). We went blackberry picking for the first time, and really enjoyed the fruits of our labor!

We were very happy that this July had much cooler weather than last July did. We were able to be outside doing things a whole lot more! We went to Six Flags St. Louis for the first time, and the children had their first experiences with roller coasters. And I remembered why I hate roller coasters! Moose took us with him to “Honor Roll Night” at the Gateway Grizzlies game. We had a fun Fourth of July, and celebrated with an adorable little patriot and a big feast. Bunny and I went out for a Mother-Daughter sushi lunch. Twinkies made a comeback! We went to the zoo, and got to see the very cool new sea-lion exhibit for the first time. Turkey’s baseball team had an unexpected victory in the playoffs, which allowed them to play one more game. Bunny celebrated her ninth birthday. We had all-inclusive tickets to a Cardinals game…a rare, but very appreciated, treat! While we were there, Turkey got beaked! I volunteered at the LCMS convention, and then took the children back to see it in action. We also finally visited the Gateway Arch (although we didn’t take the ride to the top). We celebrated the birth of Prince George with yet another tea party (I’m getting to be a professional at putting those together!).

In August, we went peach picking at Eckert’s. There’s no end of things to do there! We added Lego Big Ben to our architecture collection. Bunny and I went to Star Wars Night at Busch Stadium, and even got to sit in the Champion’s Club. We took another road trip, this time to see the Cardinals AA affiliate, the Springfield Cardinals, play. Ryan and I repainted and redecorated our den/his office. The whole family (but especially Chickadee!), got hooked on Dinosaur Office. We visited the St. Louis Art Museum. All of the older children went back to school, and I made schultüte for them again…I guess it’s a tradition now! We took a field trip to the St. Louis Science Center. Fredbird celebrated his birthday, so we went to Busch Stadium to help him.

September was a big baseball month. I went to Social Media Night, and even won an autographed Jason Motte photo! We also got to see a walk-off victory the night we went to Busch Stadium with Moose’s school. We went downtown to see the fountain at Kiener Plaza dyed red in honor of the Cardinals going to the playoffs. We celebrated Oktoberfest. We took another trip to Eckert’s, this time to pick apples. While Ryan was out of town (again!), the children and I went to the St. Louis Scottish games for the first time. We celebrated Michaelmas with an angelic feast.

Moose brought home a really cool piece of art he made in October. We were back at Eckert’s…this time for pumpkin picking. Even the Lego store caught Redbird Fever. I shared what a day in the life our homeschool looks like. I also rearranged the schoolroomagain…which allowed Chickadee to move in with her big sisters. Red October really started to heat up in St. Louis (before it fell flat in the World Series). I put together one last tea party for the year (number seven!), for Reformation Day.

Things got really busy in November. The children and I (minus Chickadee, again), spent a fun day in Forest Park, looking for leaves and seeds and any other nature items we could find. We even looked at some of it under the microscope! Moose turned eight. Ryan took me to my first-ever hockey game. Chickadee was very excited when we put up the Christmas tree! Ryan and I finally finished the Lego Tower Bridge, complete with mini vehicles assembled by the children. I made my radio debut on KFUO. I also baked a lot of pies for our Thanksgiving dinner. We finished our Thankful Tree for the year. The day after Thanksgiving, we started what I hope will become a new tradition…we spent a few hours as a family, putting together a Lego Christmas Market. I already can’t wait to see what next year’s Christmas set will be! When we finished that, we went down to main street for our town’s tree lighting.

December was, as it is every year, crazy. Due to an illness that we couldn’t shake for several weeks, we had to cross a few things off of my to-do list, and Christmas school fell a bit flat. We did get around to all of the important stuff, though, even if it didn’t all quite happen as planned (our Christmas baking this year, for example, got spread out over several weeks, and was still happening after Christmas was over!). Other than the illness, there was one low point in December…Turkey had to have some baby teeth pulled. He was very brave, though, and it was soon forgotten. We went to Christmas on the Hill…it was very cold! That meant that we didn’t walk around as much as usual, but we still saw La Befana, looked at the nativity scenes, and ate salamites!  For the first time, we got to walk the Anheuser-Busch brewery at nighttime, and see all of their beautiful Christmas lights. We celebrated Santa Lucia Day, with Bunny playing the title role, and handing out Lussekattes for breakfast. Even though we had looked at Belleville’s gingerbread houses at night after the tree lighting, we went back to see them a little better in the daylight. Of course, we made it to our favorite event, St. Charles Christmas Traditions. We all fell in love with this sweet video of Sweden’s adorable Princess Estelle baking cookies, and Ryan even bought Chickadee her own tiny rolling-pin just like the Princess. To kick off his Christmas vacation, Ryan played video games for 25 hours straight (with some help from the children), to raise money for the children’s hospitals in St. Louis. The children worked hard to prepare for their roles in the Sunday School Christmas program. Ladybug lost a tooth right before we left for church on Christmas Eve! We had a very merry Christmas. For the first time ever, each member of our family received a Lego set (well, Chickadee’s was a Duplo set, but it counts!), but mine was the best…the now-retired Lego Winter Village Cottage. Now I don’t have to worry about what we’ll build the day after Thanksgiving next year! We continued our celebration the day after Christmas, when I made a pork crown roast for the first time for our fancy Christmas dinner. Ryan’s mom and I went on the “Beermaster Tour” at Anheuser-Busch…it was both fun and informative!

Writing this up is always a huge undertaking, but I love the chance to look back at all of the fun things we’ve done over the last year, and wonder what the next year has in store for us! It has been a busy, fun, crazy year, and I am so Thankful for all of the moments with which God has blessed us. I pray that He also blesses your days with joyful, noisy moments!

Happy New Year!

2013-14 School Year–Week Seven

This was a fun week in school. And the reason it was so fun didn’t even technically happen this week…it was a field trip we took last Saturday! Since we’ve been studying English history, and are about to start on Scottish history, we went to the St. Louis Scottish Games in Forest Park! It was a lot of fun, and really helped put a face on what we’ve been learning about, so to speak. Seeing how much pride there still is in the Scottish heritage, eating Scottish food, hearing Scottish music, and watching Scottish entertainment really helped our history to come alive! We also kept talking about the things we saw and did all week long…major homeschool win!

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We got to celebrate a feast day in church on Sunday, and our memory work for both last week and this week tied into that, as did some of our religion lessons. We’ve also started learning about Martin Luther in religion, it being October and all, which is always an interesting subject.

I guess the rest of the week was fairly standard. We continued learning about ancient Africa in history, particularly Egypt, but a little about the rest of the continent as well. We read a few tales about Anansi, which were enjoyed by everyone. We also read a few more Greek myths. We’re starting to get into some of the lesser-known stories, which is fun and interesting. We finished learning about Venus in science, so next week, we get to learn about our home planet…should be fun!

I’ve also been working on plans for Christmas school, as well as for the Winter Olympics next year. We’re going to be learning a lot about Russia…I’m pretty excited about it. We’ll also get to view yet another production of the Nutcracker, which is always a favorite part of our school at Christmastime!

Bookmarks

When we were at the St. Louis Scottish Games, the children received a “ticket” into the play area: a plaid (of course!) ribbon marked with the year and pinned to their shirts–pink for the girls, and green for the boys. They really liked these ribbons, and didn’t want to throw them out when we got home. Like all ribbons, however, they started to run into the problem of unraveling. After thinking about what I could do to preserve them, I got out my laminator, and turned them into bookmarks. They’re the perfect size for it, and now they can see how beautiful the ribbons are without having to worry about them coming apart!

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St. Louis Scottish Games

This morning, I took my lads and lassies down to Forest Park to check out the St. Louis Scottish Games. We’d never been before, but since we’re wrapping up British history and starting Scottish history, I thought it would be the perfect event to attend. There was so much to see and do…we had a fun (and exhausting!) time!

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There was great stuff for kids, including a play area and getting “passports” stamped by all of the different clans in attendance:

There was a sword-fighting demonstration (Turkey’s favorite part):

And sheep-herding:

There was a dog parade, which was very popular with the children (especially Chickadee), and I learned that there are a lot more breeds of Scottish dogs that I had imagined!

There was also a parade of tartans, with representatives from all of the clans there (Clan Ferguson was the honored clan of the event):

Of course there was food. We tried fish and chips (naturally), Cornish pasties, a Scottish soda called Irn Bru, a deep-fried Mars bar, and, for those of us of legal drinking age (me), the special beer brewed by Schlafly (Eighty Shilling), just for this event. We did not try the haggis, though!

One of my favorite parts was watching the highland dancers and listening to the bagpipes (often at the same time!):

The athletic competitions were also fascinating to watch!

Mostly, though, there was just Scottish pride everywhere!

Céad míle fáilte!